The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD has made even both of them.*
Here it is the day before Easter and I woke to this
Sigh. Fortunately, the sun is out now and I’m sure it will melt before too long (right?). And at least I can close the drapes and pretend spring is here.
Since my dual personality has covered the religious side of things, Easter movies, and even our father’s birthday (April 4, 1922), I thought I would tackle music. When I was growing up, we listened primarily to classical music. Thanks to my mother, I developed quite a soft spot for the dour, but romantic Russian composers, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, and Mussorsgky among others.
At Easter time, for example, we listened to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Overture”.
At Halloween we would turn of all the lights and listen to Mussorsgky’s “Night on Bald Mountain”. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only were Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorsgky friends, but the latter was even best man at R-K’s wedding! In fact, while going through Mussorgky’s papers after his death, R-K found a piano piece called “Pictures at an Exhibition” that he subsequently transformed into the orchestral version with which we are familiar today.
R-K seemed to outlive a lot of his friends and family; he also ended up arranging much of Borodin’s unfinished work, including the performance version of “Prince Igor”.
In the long run Rimsky-Korsakov was extremely successful, but he had his moments of self-doubt, too. When he was just 26 he took a job as a Professor of Composition and Instrumentation and leader of the St. Petersburg orchestra. Later he observed: “Had I ever studied at all, had I possessed a fraction more knowledge than I actually did, it would have been obvious to me that I could not and should not accept…that it was foolish and dishonest of me to become a professor. But I, the author of Sadko…was a dilettante and knew nothing”.** I know that feeling, don’t you? I find it endearing that such a genius could feel that way too.
As you celebrate the joy of Easter, enjoy some beautiful classical music. We seem to be a culture of forgetting and I sometimes worry that the ability to play and appreciate classical music is as much in peril of being lost as high level literacy. Last Saturday, for example, a friend and I attended a Bach concert, at which the vast majority of the audience had gray hair. I think the only person there under 45 was one of the singers.
Listen and See.
Have a Happy Easter!!
* Proverbs 20:12
**You can find the source for this quote and the other information about Rimsky-Korsakov here.